Compact to increase CSU system budget by 2.5 percent

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The Higher Education Compact, an agreement between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the CSU system, will allow a 2.5 percent increase in enrollment and state funding for the 2005-06 academic year through 2010-11.

Ronald Clouse, director of Budget Planning and Marketing at CSUN, said the CSU system has issued a budget proposal that will be finalized through legislation around June.

Clouse said the determination of the budget is based mainly on the number of full time equivalent students that will be enrolled in a year.

For the 2004-05 academic year, the number of FTES enrolled at CSUN is 23,606, and for 2005-06, is expected to be 24,196, which is an enrollment increase of 2.5 percent.

In the 1990s, each university in the CSU system made budget requests according to their individual needs, Clouse said. But in 1992, the CSU system decided to use another process, where money from the system’s budget for would be allocated to individual universities depending on the previous year’s budget. The budget can therefore either be increased or decreased depending on various factors the CSU system takes into account, such as the state’s economic stability, he said.

The growth in enrollment for the 2006-07 academic year still varies and is in discussion because CSUN is going to become a year-round-operated campus, Clouse said.

He said the CSU system has requested and is expecting to receive an increase of $224,845,000 in the budget. There may be changes in this proposed budget, but it will be pretty close to the requested amount, he said.

CSUN is expected to receive an increase of more than $16 million in the budget, totaling just over $269 million for 2005-06, compared to the budget for 2004-05, which was just over $253 million.

The CSU system is proposing an increase of 8 percent in undergraduate student fees, and 10 percent in graduate state fees, according to Clouse.

Clouse said there has been a fluctuation in enrollment within the last few years. In 2003-04, there were 24,392 FTES, compared with the initial target of 22,527. For Fall 2004, there were only 23,606 FTES enrolled, a decrease of just over 3 percent from the previous year.

CSUN is one “economic victim” in the state, Clouse said.

“No matter (how much funding) you’ve (gotten), you can always find ways to do more and better,” said Clouse. “You can never have enough.”

The Cinema and Television Arts Department at CSUN is experiencing these enrollment decreases firsthand.

John Schultheiss, CTVA chair, said the department was operating at 85 percent enrollment capacity in 2004-05. They were 15 percent below the enrollment target.

He said that in previous years, the classes in the department were impacted, meaning there were more students than the program could accommodate.

Schultheiss said adjustments were made to reduce enrollment in the program, but with the sudden increase in the enrollment target last summer, the department was under-enrolled and received less funding.

He said the department never received a raise in their budget, even when there were larger numbers of enrollment. However, when the enrollment numbers dropped, their funding was cut as well.

“It’s a different paradox we have to deal with today,” said Schultheiss. “The university doesn’t seem to be able to provide a clear set of explanations of why the numbers have dropped. The only explanation that seems to have credibility (is) if you use the term impacted.”

He said it all goes back to the shortfall of the budget from the state of California that produced cuts state-wide.

“This is just our share,” said Schultheiss.

Schultheiss said there are speculations that high school students often do not apply to the CTVA Department even if they qualify with a 3.0 grade point average, due to past budget cuts.

Schultheiss said that logically, the numbers should be increasing, but the numbers have not yet increased. The department has not met its target both semesters in the 2004-05 term.

Schultheiss said some of the areas in which the department suffered were loss of faculty positions and resources.

“We’re not able to buy anything at this point,” Schultheiss said.

He said some of the departments, including CTVA, are asking for aid from sources outside the funds provided by the budget.

“Now, you’re no longer state supported,” said Schultheiss. “You’re state assisted.”

It has come to the point that the department is not adequately funded to even change a projection light bulb that has expired in the Alan and Elaine Armer Theatre in Manzanita Hall, Schultheiss said. The cost to replace that bulb is $5,000.

“We don’t have that money,” Schultheiss said. “We have relative money to pay for paper in the Xerox machine.”

According to Schultheiss, the CTVA department has to put in a request for outside funding.

“It’s always challenging to be a beggar, (and) a little demeaning,” Schultheiss said. “We sort of suck in our sense of pride and humility.”

A couple sources of aid for the department come from Eastern Kodak and Panavision, who provide the department with film and cameras, he said.

“We’ve come to depend on that,” Schultheiss said. “If we had to depend only on the money that the State of California (provides) us, we wouldn’t survive, unless we cut production.”

Schultheiss said production is the reason most CTVA students come to CSUN, and that four years of education in the CTVA department cost less than one year of the education received at USC.

Diane Stephens, director of Academic Resources and Planning, said the governor’s Higher Education Compact will help CSUN and the CSU system because of the growth rate in enrollment and funding. It will provide new funding for those students.

She said if the CSU does not receive the proposed funding, it will not be able to adequately serve the students.

When CSUN was in the budget reduction phase of 2004-05, cuts were made in faculty and programs for the university, Stephens said.

“I think Academic Affairs will take quite a long time to rebound from this deficit,” Stephens said.

The Academic Affairs Adjusted General Fund Budget is $107,785,091.

“The overall outlook of 2005-06 looks more promising,” said Mohammad Qayoumi, vice president and CFO of Administration and Finance.

According to Qayoumi, there are signs of growth and improvement in the economy, specifically in the CSU system.

“If the state improves in a much bigger way, there’s no limitation that the state can’t give more money to the CSU,” Qayoumi said.

He said the CSU received more money in the Higher Education Compact in the 1990s, but receiving additional money than what is proposed in the budget is not expected now, because the overall projected income of the state’s revenues are less than the expenditures. He said the deficit is somewhere between $6 and $9 billion.

Qayoumi said there will be a 4 percent increase in the salary pool for faculty and staff for the first time in three years.

“This is still to be developed in a more accurate way,” Qayoumi said.

The State Department of Finance will prepare another revenue projection for the state, Qayoumi said, which will provide a clearer picture of what the California state revenue will be for the year. By June 30, the budget for 2005-06 may be finalized.

He said the budget planning for the divisions in CSUN is in discussion, taking into account the proposed budget. If there are sudden changes in the budget, adjustments will be made.

“We won’t know the 2005-06 budget, roughly until the semester starts,” Qayoumi said. “We will make assumptions until it is set.”

Qayoumi said the first priority is deciding the pay for the instructors, and paying all the campus’s mandatory costs, assuring adequate classes and then looking at other campus programs.

The reason they plan the budget prior to
receiving the set budget is because they cannot afford to wait for it, Qayoumi said.

“The schedule for fall is being set now,” Qayoumi said.